I'm living in Kusatsu-shi, Shiga-ken for an undetermined amount of time and teaching English as a second language at a local high school. This journal is to document my experiences, thoughts, and to stay connected with others at home and abroad.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Monotonous aphorisms exist for a reason...

they say things that are true. As redundant and trite they may be, and at risking sounding ancient and southern baptisty, I have finally accepted something told to me by many professors, probably the most important thing I have ever heard: "I cannot recognize any of you from my pedestal up here because I'm old and blind and even if I could it wouldn't matter because you are all peons to me since I have tenure, blah, blah, blah, and you're probably going to forget 95% of what I say up here, blah, blah, blah, and then the doctor told me to go easy on the multivitamins or my piss would stay yellow forever, blah, blah, blah...was I rambling?"
The point is that the other day I thought that I forgot one of my favorite poems that I memorized during school. I did it because I realized at the time I had not memorized a poem since grade school and all of my empty space had been wasted on video game secret codes and the names of once-met, estranged family members whom I will never see again––just kidding, I never remembered their names. Anyway, now that I've offended enough people I wouldn't recognize the name or face of, I want to share the poem as my brain best preserves it. So my professor was right. I lost a significant portion of his edification, but the most important truism will remind me never to let go of the things I will probably drop in a frenzy to imbibe as much Japanese as possible.
So here is a classic, Shakespeare's Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds,
admit impediments. Love's not love,
which alters when it alteration finds,
nor bends with the remover to remove;
Oh no! It is an ever-fix'd mark,
that looks on tempests and is never shaken,
it is a tree for every wandering bark,
who's worth's unknown although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks,
within his bending sickyl's compass come,
love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out even to the edge of doom,
and if this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

While I'm on the Super-Sonnet train (man, I'm hilarious), here is Shakespeare's Sonnet 129. This one is not from memory, so no clapping please. I'm just a lone scrivener who likes to share thoughts.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy'd no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow'd bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

I think this is by far once of the most eloquent statements on the state of human overindulgence in ravenously hounding ideals. I can imagine (with little stretching) that the "lust in action" refers to many tragic heroes as well as their counterparts. It applies to Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Captain Ahab, Lady Macbeth, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna (powerful name!), Billy Graham, anyone fundamental, France, China, India, Pakistan, England, Russia, the U.S.A., Iran, North Korea (all mad in pursuit or possession of nukes), anyone who's fearful and chickenshit enough to own a gun, and I think if we can extend that noose a teeny, weeny bit further we'll find Bush/Cheney hanging from the same tree of desire. If only people would recognize the thing they know deep down––that their lustful actions are driven by desperation for security and ego-compensation––we would be in a much better international position. I mean all of us.
I must realize much of what I am saying may be rather, forward, and well, more aggressive that what you are used to hearing from me. I believe that there has been too much leniency in the past few years toward stupidity and apathy, and I feel like one of the few people aware of these injustices who is also willing to say something about them. I am making appeals to reason, and I hope to hear responses to anyone interested. I hope to hear alternate hypotheses as well. I want to hear anything to know that other people have eyes and that they acknowledge their roles as witnesses to some of the most ridiculous phenomena is history. Not just Bush, although he is a favorite target. Anything worth laughing at or thinking about is welcome.
Thanks. Peace.

Kyoto with UGA friends (July 1st)

Josho no michi ga meccha hiroi ne?!

Katie and I went to go meet two of my friends from UGA, Akiko and Natsuko, both who live in the Kobe area. Well, Akiko actually live in Okayama right now with her family as she's finishing school, but she plans on living in Kobe soon. Akiko and Natsuko were studying abroad in Athens last year and I became friends with them through the Japanese classes I was taking, which they were assisting. It's so funny that a year ago I spoke no Japanese, didn't really know anyone from Japan, had never really eaten much sushi, watched little anime, etc.––and now I'm living Japanese. Strange huh. I even have friends, yeah!

So we met and toured Kyoto. We went to Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion), wandered around a bit along the Kamogawa (duck river), and toured the Josho (Imperial Palace) grounds. It was all fun and gorgeous and a low cloud cover kept the air cool and comfortable with only a few drizzily patches. But my favorite part was just goofing around and talking with everyone I hadn't seen in a while, and introducing Katie to a bit of my friends/life she didn't get to see while I was in Athens the last year. I left the day feeling so giddily contented and hopeful about the upcoming years here with her.

The Golden Pavilion Bush visited last November––I hear he offered Koizumi half of Iraq and a quarter of Afghanistan for it. Koizumi said no, but I’ll give it to you for half your naval fleet and nuclear disarmament. Bush chuckled like a good-natured redneck and said, “You know, Koee-zumee-san, you’re a funny guy. Let’s go get drunk and sing us some Elvis karee-okee.” (HAHA)!

So there isn't much more to say so the pictures can do the talking. Thank you Natsuko for taking and forwarding so many great pictures!

This is the photo-op mecca at Kinkakuji––I think there were lines of people waiting to get their shutter-snap off.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Meet Katharine Gabriel Middendorf

Hi there
Sorry for all of you who may feel nauseated at my fawning over this heavenly creature, but dues must be paid and I need to express the gratitude I have for a special woman in my life. Many people will probably find the answer to many gaps in previous stories and life choices after hearing about the person who has inspired me so.

In case you can't tell, she's pretty adorable

Most people have not heard much about or even seen Katie with your eyes. For those wondering, yes she is a "real girl." She is not an elusive mystery or a phone sex hotline personality. She does not appear often in the photos I include because she's using her artistic hand behind the camera. (Actually she's had me locked up in the closet on a strict diet of wasabi and daikon (giant raddish) and I have finally escaped in order to find help. Everything on this blog has been crafted and edited by her. DO NOT TRUST A WORD SHE'S SAID––I'M STARVING AND MISERABLE!!! Dot-dot-dot-dash-dash-dash-dot-dot-dot! Wait this is a computer-age and that means everything more than five years old is obsolete: HELP!!!)

This is the face I imagine her making right now while reading this blog for the first time

Probably the best thing about her is that I am just as much of a mystery to her as she is to me and everyone else. My digressions confuse her. She smiles and tries to laugh, but quite honestly it sometimes sounds like gibberish to her. So Katie can probably empathize well with any loyal readers of my story thus far. Imagine, she hears and juggles all of the nonsense I spurt out like a spiteful Tourettes patient and still supports me on a daily basis. I find that pretty merit-badge worthy. I love her genuine desire to learn about and understand me.

This is by one of Katie's favorite artists: Flowers by Odilon Redon

On paper Katie was born on February 7th, 1980 and grew up in Athens, GA on Jefferson River Road. She attended Davidson College in North Carolina for two years and played volleyball there. On a roundabout path she ended back up in Athens where she graduated in the fall of 2004 with three degrees: one in painting, one in studio arts, and a third in psychology. Despite the fact that we simultaneously attended UGA for two and-a-half years, I did not meet Katie until almost a year ago last month (June 27th was our best guess at a one-year anniversary). To my shock Katie was planning on leaving in less than two months from that day to move to Japan and teach English in the JET Program (an idea I also considered in previous years). We knew each other for a short time, but I quickly became enamoured with her free, aggressive spirit and honest personality, and when Katie left at the end of July I was not sure if I would ever see her again. I felt pretty sad, but lucky to have met such a meaningful person. I felt much inspiration through her example to blaze my own trail and follow it unquestioningly.

Here is another: The Implorer by Camille Claudel

About a week and an email or two later, I received a call from Katie on my cell phone while driving from Atlanta to Athens. SHE LOVES ME!! She wanted me to know that although we were so far away, she loved and missed me dearly. I couldn't drive straight so I had to pull off into a gas station parking lot. So love prevailed, but with fatal timing––she was now living around 8,000 miles and twelve time zones (depending on daylight savings). That's an entire day and ocean separating us. Shakespeare's lovers don't know the meaning of distraught.

Heart of Voh, New Caledonia (Island in Pacific Ocean). This is a completely natural occurrence, by chance, where the high salinity in this mangrove forest has cordoned off the cordate-shape miracle in the center.

So after a few trips, one in December, one in March, and a few million unclaimed frequent flyer miles later (I am really stupid, I have no excuse), I am now living here with Katie one year later. I don't really know how to explain how or why. Something just felt right, and it appeared as if a perfect bridge had been laid across the Pacific to bring us together. I only trusted and followed it. I also received a job offer from the JET Program, and now I am living in Kusatsu-shi, writing about the woman who brought me here (she’s in the other room painting right now). She didn't mean to do it either, that's the scary part. It all just seemed right, felt right, and I never doubted it for a minute.

Well, things aren't always that easy. I know this is a bit offensive in the middle of a love story, but it is one of Katie’s favorite paintings: Saturn by Francisco de Goya.

Ok, well, sometimes are difficult. Summer here is enough to incite riots––sometimes it does. But Katie's impression has been one I want to constantly revow and cherish. If I am lucky, some days I can watch her while painting for a few minutes before she shoos me out of the room. She blushes easily and I'll bet she has two red crescents blooming on her cheeks right now. She doesn't mind it when I pick my nose in front of her. She likes my drawings and doggerel. We go on insane bicycling and hiking trips that leave us too tired to hug as we fall asleep. When we saw the small monks' homes near the Kuuchitaki waterfalls, we both looked at each other and said it was the place we wanted to live. I love to effleurage and trace circles over he back when she returns stressed from a day at work. She squeals when I surprise her or when we are chasing each other on the playground. She wants me to teach her guitar (as if I know how), and we practice studying and speaking Japanese together. We watch old South Park episodes and have a few potted plants and herbs we call a garden on the balcony. She eats a salad almost every day with dinner and once a week (at least) we go for sushi (how can we not?––this is Japan). Sometimes she has trouble paying attention and I bore her with hyper-detailed stories. She misplaces her keys an average of five times a weeks, and when this happens I sometimes find it for her and we giggle.
She loves and supports me and gives me everything she can and tries to give some things she doesn't even have. She has pretty hair.

She really does have pretty hair. I often wish it were edible.

A dream I had (and an excuse to add belated Thailand photos)

With how we sentenced Zacarias Moussaoui to watching cable in isolation for the rest of his life, a very appropriate judgment given his heretical anti-Americanism, I was thinking about the best way to see out our cavalier president after we finally give him the boot. Here is my proposal for a Greek Tartarian version of George Bush's hell, and hence, my idea of justified redemption:

Imagine a convention of the fattest owners of the most lucrative businesses in America. I'm talking Haliburton and prelapsian Enron, logging and tabacco tycoons, etc...everyone is present. Their hands are strangling their money so tight-fistedly that sweat drips down their foreheads and stains $10,000 suits. Then the politicians enter. Everyone begins swapping cards and making deals with the utmost formality and familiarity. Exchanges are made so amicably that no one with an outside view would guess that they were witnessing some of the dirties and most secretive deals taking place. Headhunters and cannibals have so much more integrity and honesty––these slave traders find it necessary to label everything the opposite of what it is. Outsourcing sounds so harmless, like a leisurely weekend trip to the lake and/or beach house (or maybe we could take the private jet and do both?). Who knew that it would enslave and cripple a foreign country while destablizing the local economy, education, and employment?
So these deals continue and become more refined, but when the highest power enters the room, W, the letter, the icon, the name or our future, he's occluded by a eight-hundred pounds of human eclipse. The truth of the yokozuna (high ranking sumo wrestler) does not bend for any price. When Bushie tries to outflank his opponent by scurrying around and outside of the circumfrence of ozumo's reach, the planet of flesh slide across with surprising agility. Any direction Bush tries to move is block by a mountain. Any berth is quickly reversed and diminished. Whenever W's craven legs fail and he stumbles onto the flapping tongue-pink carpet rolled out as a runway for his entrence, the yokozuna also take a short rest––on Bush's head. And for those who do now know, the yokozuna is often so wide that he cannot reach his own rear end, and after releiving himself the ozuma needs an ass-wiping assistant. Well, as every president in American history has worn a white powder wig, so does Lord Bush. And in dire times when the yokozuna needs assistance, W is thankful that this is my dream and that he has that powder wig handy.
So like the Wiley Coyote ever-chasing the Roadrunner, for eternity Bush endlessly struggles to gain access to the pampered convention while being hounded by a yokozuna wrestler, who sometimes sits on and sometimes defecates on the poor icon. Thus he is eternally defeated by his own desire and intemperance of a lustful heart.

I want to conclude with a happier image, however, for although many stinky things exist inside and out of our respective countries and governments, certain sustaining beliefs can outlast the ruins of our "mind-forged manacles." Thresholds exist even where you think they may not as long as you leave the door open.

Temple in Ayutthaya (Old Capital of Siam and Thailand between 14th and 19th centuries) located about one-hour north of Bangkok.
Southern Thailand, somewhere between Krabi and Khao Phanom Bencha National Park on the back of our five-dollar motorcycle.
Take a gander––this is the D.C. in a few hundred years.
We have a lot in common. So serene, so sunny.
Time-Warner Square
I have no smart-ass comment, she's too cute.
Who knew aiports could be so fun at two am?
Now gimme my pot-o-gold ye leperchaun! (Sorry, I couldn't bring myself to say, "Kiss me, I'm Irish." Who came up with that one anyway? Are the Irish that much more attractive? Why not kiss me, I'm horny, or kiss me, I'll give you five dollars? Those sound more reasonable. What the hell, I'm pretty too, don't I deserve kisses. Dammit, Dan, you broke my heart!)
This is my door

Atago Yama, (Douyoubi) July 8th

My lazy (aka, sleeping) Buddha position

Last weekend we went on another long journey. Tucked in the mountains about thirty minutes north of Kyoto is a small town called Kiyotaki (clear/blue waterfall). We took a 4.8-or-so kilometer hike up to the top of Mt. Atago, which looks down from a one thousand meter perch over Kyoto. The trail was marked in our LP guidebook as an easy track, but I beg to differ. The beginning was impressively steep, though near the top it leveled off a bit. Legs of monolithic cedar trees surrounded us on all sides, and I was humbled by the thought that this trail had been traveled and carved out by silent monks for over two millennia. And by the fact that if these trees could lift their legs they could stomp me out of existence like an ant (ari).

But we certainly didn't forget to have fun. Yes, I even hugged a few trees. The friend in the pictures with us is Tim. Timmy! Timmy is very cool and enjoys playing and babbling about nonsense with me. At other moments our group can be pretty sober and silent in reverence of the nature around us. An inexplicable aura of equilateral triangularity (triangle=sankakkei) hovers over the adventures shared between Timmy, Katie, and me. We stopped and wrote a haiku on the way up the mountain together, each person taking a different line, but without anyone knowing what the others were writing. Here is what resulted, no lie, by the chance and energy mingling in all three of us:

A zen moment to accompany our haiku.

green folds of mountains
clear a path with used flowers
leaves beckon follow

We also created bear names for each other. I forget how this one started, but it was pretty fun: Tim is "Bear This"; Katie is "Bare Naked"; I am "Bear Huggily".

This gives tapping the keg a whole new meaning

As for other stories, we came across an expansive cedar forest that stretched along the path we were walking for about 300 meters or so. It was one of those clusters where the trees were randomly (stochastically is the word I'm looking for) scattered at semi-regular intervals to give each other space, however, the collective view hypnotically transfixed the onlookers view so that they appears to march along with us while we walked. Kind of like looking at the hubcaps of a speeding car––after staring for a few seconds, the rims appear to change direction and spin backward. That's the effects I'm looking for, though in a completely natural context of course. Anyway, we came up with a game where we made wishes and threw them directly into the orchard of one-legged giants. If the rock found the ground safely, then the wish would come true. Some of our wishes were the following, and I will indicate whether the wish will come true by a HIT TREE, meaning it will not come true vs. a SAFE WISH, meaning it should if the is a fair god dictating this world (which I doubt).

I wished for a pizza––SAFE WISH
Tim wished I would not get my pizza––HIT TREE (in his face!)
I wished to sterilize all world politicians––HIT TREE (DAMN!)
Tim wished to get rid of all politicians––I can't remember the result but don't hold your breath
Tim wished for a forest of trees––SAFE WISH
Tim wished for a forest of buildings––SAFE WISH (why?)
I wished to live in the forest where we were at the time––SAFE WISH (YEAH!)

I spy something wet

The most memorable experience of the day was hiking up to this small waterfall wedged in the valley underneath the Atago Temple and Shrine. I haven't quite deciphered the kanji yet, but I think the name is Kuuchitaki (translation=water falls out of the sky onto the earth). The walls of mountain press closer and closer together as you ascend to where the falls are located. Moist, dewy ferns and moss cake the rocks like icing the entire way. A small gathering of three or four houses where the monks stay reside just below the falls––seriously, this is the place Katie and I want to live. Another 100 meters above the gardens and homes is a stone staircase that leads up to the view in this photo. The streams drop down from above sixty or so feet overhead, and a small shrine sits more or less directly beneath the landing zone, perhaps only two feet out of reach. Katie and Tim didn't join me in it, but I stripped down for a personal spiritual moment before the shrine, standing under the icy falls, holding my breath. The atmosphere was so exhilarating and invigorating, like baptismal waters were being poured over me. I feel spiritually connected to this nature and to the waters that make it up––after all, I have an ocean inside of me as well as outside.

It tastes like burning!

Our night concluded back in the city of Kyoto, where warm-ups for this weekend’s Gion Festival were taking place. A fire-performer marveled us as we recoiled against the Kamogawa (duck river), our second tributary of the day. I think this was by far my favorite day/adventure yet, and seeing water's opposite wielded so freely. Now that I think about it, we encountered every vital life element that corresponds symbolically with the day of the week in ancient China and Japan. Getsuyoubi=moon day=Monday, Kayoubi=fire day=Tuesday, Suiyoubi=water day=Wednesday, Mokuyoubi=tree day=Thursday, Kinyoubi=metal=Friday (I question whether this one is necessary), Douyoubi=earth day=Saturday, Nichiyoubi=Sunday. Maybe that's why today felt so fulfilling––it literally contained a piece of everything. The trees, water, earth, and fire I have explained. We also used gold and silver metal to pay for our bus tickets, and our trip lasted the entire day as witnessed by the sun and moon.
I hope for many more days, years, and lifetimes in the presence of this rapidly diminishing Nature.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Biwako (Shiga-ken's and Japan's largest lake) from Space

Make a wish

Bicycle Trip

Come on in, the water's fine.

Hello! Last weekend Katie and I took a bicycle trip up to Adogawa-cho on the west side of lake Biwa (Biwa-ko). We underestimated the distance a bit––on the map it looked so much closer––so the roughly 75 kilometer trip took us about five hours (seven and-a-half if you include stopping for a lunch picnic and a swim). If you look on the map, we started out in the middle of Kusatsu-shi, naturally, and rode up to the peninsula of Moriyama-shi that sticks its toe out into the lake. Here a toll bridge conveniently links the two sides where they are closest (about two kilometers apart). Most of the way was paved out on a cycling path that made everything run pretty smoothly. There are some really beautiful, quaint towns on the west side in Shiga, Takashima, and Adogawa-chos where the mountains rub up against the lake and the towns cluster in small farming communities (everyone should know by now how dear I find that). It was incredible to have the mountains hugging tightly on one side and simultaneously having the other completely laid open by the mouth of the lake. (I also added an interactive map of Japan that shows Shiga-ken in much better topographical detail for those who are interested.) I wish I could have seen what the area looked like before the recent industrial age.

The other pictures I posted are of the Shirahige Tori in Takashima-cho where Katie and I stopped briefly for a dip in the lake. North Biwa-ko is much cleaner and tranquil without all of the factories of Kusatsu and Otsu and the opposite end. I didn't have a camera, so I borrowed a few different photos from the web to show Shirahige Tori under different lenses. Katie and I were pretty lucky honestly, though, because when we swam out under the giant gate (probably about four stories tall) there was a mesmerizing sunset like the middle picture included. I hope we decorated the photos of passersby well. One older man talked to us for a few minutes afterward. He told us that the old name of Biwa-ko was Omi, which is a traditional Japanese lute, because the resemblance in their shapes. (This would also explain why so many towns and cities have the prefix "Omi-" in their names.)

I was a wonderful but exhausting trip. Needless to say we slept well that night at our friend's apartment in Adogawa. The next day we packaged our convertible bikes (I call them "foldies" because you can fold it in half, drop the seat and handles and put it in a travel bag to lug along on the train) and took the train home to Kusatsu. Remarkably, it only took a little over an hour to get all the way back around. But we really enjoyed the journey––that's what it's all about anyway––and plan on doing similar lake trips in the future.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Are people born with eyes, or do they develop with age?

Just a hypothetical question. Any takers?

Week of July 4th

These are a few pictures that I took of the greater Kusatsu area. The top one is typical scene. In the river valleys between mountains farmers plant galaxies of rice fields. Irrigation channels do the majority of the work, however sometimes I see one lone sexagenarian tending to twenty football fields of rice plants. I tried to capture the unobtrusive quietude of this one man I saw in the midst of his zen-like duties. I know its an idyllic trifle of nostalgia, but I really feel his responsibility and respect for the soil while he is nurturing the earth into fruition. I can imagine his unquestioning simplicity that strives only to produce nourishment without destroying in the process. I wonder why humans think it more natural to pervert this process with technology. Why do we insist on challenging and interrupting a cycle of nature and growth that is older and more resolute than our minds can fathom? The divine fallacy that humans imagine of themselves, the belief of necessity by power that they use in order to elevate and ensky themselves above the earth and natural processes (as well as each other), is in my opinion the most dangerous and delusional of human creations. Believing that we were made in God's image seems to inflate people with the assumption that what we do is right because we do it righteously, or worse, by necessity. Our means of justification and rationalization appear to be more akin to ego-defenses to sweep away dissonances that arise when we realize the way we live now contradicts the way the universe and earth works. It's a scary thing when we make these decisions to choose ignorance on our own, but when our (US) government simultaneously withholds truths about global warming from citizens, how are we supposed to make well-informed opinions and conclusions in the presence of groupthink and deception?
The second photo serves as a contrast to the first. This is downtown Kusatsu from an elevated position on the Old Kusatsu River (Kawa). As you can see development here moves at a fairly impressive rate. The city has roughly the same population of Athens (a handful over 100,000 residents), it just grows up rather than out. I'm thankful to see such conscientious use of urban development. It leaves more space and land for nature. If you enlarge this image though, you can see a large icon in the center with two doves on it––one green, one white. This is the climaxing of human culture, the advertisement. Nearly every city center in Shiga-ken (prefecture) bears Cain's stain of industry and money. It is the Wal-Mart of Japan with everything you could want from clothes to food to books to houseware (surprise, surprise, I'm steering clear). I want to present this iconography to balance the view. I don't want to purport the infallibility of Japanese life. It is subject to the same avarice and greed of capitalism as America. But I'm honestly hoping the more traditional and deferent attitude toward nature will prevail.
An example of this is my third photograph. It's an example of subsistence farming still taking place in some of the fields about ten minutes from our apartment. Older men and women only need to take a short drive to their own private garden where they can reap vegetables and fruits for their daily use. Tomatoes and onions are especially abundant right now; in the winter cabbage and daikon (giant white radish). Year round these people labor to produce for their families, selling whatever else they have at a local co-op or farmer's market on the weekends.
I wonder if when this generation of grandparents passes away, will their children continue the legacy? From what I see in the future retirees, I do not predict a whole-hearted maintenance of this tradition. How will people who have spent their entire lives in offices suddenly transition to agricultural observers? They will make historically bad golfers, gamblers, and alcoholics, but outside of that, what will they accomplish? One of my favorite quotations is the closing note of Voltaire's Candide: "We must cultivate our gardens." No doubt this is metaphorical for establishing a place within ourselves that can blossom so that we can accept life's cataclysms with grace and sanity. I guess I see this maxim being ignored and avoided on a literal as well as a cultural level in our contemporary global society. We outsource for expediency and cheap products. We do not want to take responsibility for the worldwide strife our privileges cost. I am proposing that maybe if we afforded a bit insight into ourselves, our needs and the ego-defenses we manifest and the impact these have on the world, we could feed a more reciprocative and harmonious vine. Maybe we could use the earth to our advantage in farming rather than contaminate it with poisonous fertilizers, GM hormones, pesticides––all of which damage our crops in the long run. Otherwise we will pay for our literal and mental shortcuts.
I want to add finally that while these ideas may be a bit weighty and epiphany-laden for only having been in Japan for one month, they are ideas that have been incubating for years. I think it took a change of scenery to release some of them in words that I felt were appropriate. Sometimes in the past I have spouted-off and rambled about these issues like a rabid animal with bloodshot eyes and a foaming mouth. It's much easier to talk about these things at a safe distance I suppose. Well, that's enough. Peace.